Sid Prom and his family take a tremendous amount of pride in maintaining all the aspects of Paradise Ranch.
Sid greets every visitor after they arrive at his property on Spring Hill Drive off Washington Avenue. Guests congregate in the barn built by the Prom family, where they can warm themselves up with hot chocolate and apple cider and play board games in this banquet-type room. Many guests bring food and beverage to enjoy in this setting.
"We have a couple of small ovens in the barn, and guests have cooked everything from lasagna to chili," said Prom. "A businessman from Milwaukee came in once for a date with his wife and had wine and candles waiting at a table."
When their time comes, guests are called outside to board one of Paradise Ranch's horse-drawn sleighs that will take them for a 30-minute journey through the 43-acre path through the woods illuminated by Christmas lights, which Prom and his staff hang annually.
"If a single string of lights is burned out, we go out and make sure that it is fixed that night," said Prom, who also ensures that snow is trucked in for the paths even when it is not actively snowing.
This attention to detail and level of commitment to the visitor experience has made Paradise Ranch one of the most popular tourist destinations in Wisconsin.
An American Family insurance agent by day and a native of Belgium, Prom purchased the Paradise Ranch property in 2003. His wife, Katie, grew up with horses in her hometown of Sheboygan, so they decided to purchase horses for their new home. Today, Mac, Jake, Clyde and Wilbur make up the two-horse teams that pull guests through the paved path through the woods.
Originally, Prom and his family just offered carriage rides both in downtown Cedarburg and for private events in southeastern Wisconsin, a business that lasted from 2005 to 2012. It was after purchasing a horse-drawn sleigh from a school auction that Prom envisioned taking guests on rides through the woods of his property. The name for the location came after a friend of Prom's surveyed the area and was wowed by the beauty of it all.
"He told me that this place was like paradise," explained Prom. "Seemed like as good a description as any for a name."
After paving paths and building the barn, a log cabin for private events, and a second sleigh, Paradise Ranch officially opened in 2012. It quickly gained notoriety as the best sleigh ride experience in the Midwest, garnering glowing reviews from magazines, newspapers and travel guides. Soon, people from all over the world were showing up to experience a sleigh ride at Paradise Ranch. Prom knows where they come from because he has them sign a log book with their home state or country.
"We have people from all over the country who have come back every year since 2012," said Prom. "They feel like they're part of our family."
Family goes into everything they do at Paradise Ranch, with Sid, his wife Katie, and their five children working various jobs around the property whenever they have free time. The family also holds annual charity events at the property to raise money for such causes as type 1 diabetes (which afflicts one of Prom's sons).
"As my kids get older and start to move out of the house, I find that working with them on the ranch helps me remain close to them, and I couldn't ask for any greater reward from this business," Prom reflects.
Normally the season for the weekend sleigh rides goes from the end of November through the end of January, with most weekends selling out when tickets go on sale in October. However, this year Paradise Ranch is offering a special Valentine's dinner for Feb. 11 that includes the sleigh ride and a dinner for two that is ready in the barn when the ride is over. One can expect that this new event will carry the same level of excellence that Sid Prom puts into everything else at Paradise Ranch.
"I always tell my family and staff that 'good enough' is not an acceptable conclusion," said Prom. "We pride ourselves on being the best sleigh ride experience around, and our guests always walk away with memories that they will never forget."